Whether shopping for electronics, furniture or a new car, we all love getting the most bang for our buck. The same is true for cheap car insurance.
Insurance companies know drivers are looking for bargains. That’s why many insurers advertise low monthly rates to convince customers they’re getting a great deal.
But in the event of an accident, that super-cheap auto insurance might leave you stuck paying out-of-pocket for car repairs or medical bills. Suddenly, that low rate isn’t the bargain you thought it was.
Let’s look at where cheap auto policies often fall short – and get tips on how to save on your premium with ERIE without compromising your coverage.
What are the Downsides of a Cheap Auto Insurance Rate?
Deciding how much insurance you need is all about your budget and your comfort level with risk. That’s why it helps to work with a local insurance agent to help you understand what amount of coverage makes sense for your lifestyle and financial situation.
When it comes to auto insurance, exceptionally low rates should remind us of this simple truth: Sometimes, you get what you pay for.
Here’s what you might be missing out on when you purchase minimal coverage:
- You could pay more out of pocket later: When you’re found at-fault for an accident, you’re on the hook to pay for anything your insurance policy doesn’t cover. The cost of repairs, medical bills or legal fees from a multi-car pileup can get expensive… fast. Even something simple like a fender bender can cost thousands of dollars in parts alone.
- You take on more risk: If you run out of cash to pay what you’re responsible for, that could put your savings, investments or assets like your home or car at risk.
- You get fewer perks: You typically pay a little extra in premium for features like rental car expense coverage, emergency roadside service coverage or a diminishing deductible. But you’ll be happy to have those little extras there when you need them.
- It’s less personalized: A good insurance agent can help tailor your policy with endorsements and other optional add-ons to be just the right fit for your life. For example, customized coverage can come in handy when you drive occasionally for Uber or Lyft.
Is Erie Insurance Affordable?
Life is all about balance. When you’re with ERIE, you get your very own local insurance agent who can help you find that sweet spot between being kind to your budget and getting the protection you need.
Oh, and discounts? We’ve got ‘em. Here are some common auto insurance discounts and ways to save with ERIE:
- Multi-policy discount: If you have multiple policies with ERIE (such as homeowners insurance or life insurance), you may be eligible for multi-policy discounts that can save you 16% to 25% depending on the state1.
- Multi-car discount: If we insure two or more of your cars, you could qualify for a discount. (All the vehicles in your household must be owned and used by the driver we insure.)
- Safety savings: You can save on your insurance coverage if your car is equipped with safety equipment like factory-installed air bags, passive restraint2, anti-theft devices3 and anti-lock brakes.
- Young drivers: Unmarried drivers under 21 who reside with their parents may be eligible for additional savings on their car insurance3.
- College student discount: Let us know if you have a student who doesn’t have access to a car while at school and you could get a discount for the time they aren’t driving.
- Vehicle storage: Why pay for extra coverage on a car that’s not moving any time soon? If you’re storing a vehicle for at least 90 consecutive days, take advantage of our reduced usage discount available in most states.
- First accident forgiveness: Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why ERIE offers accident forgiveness. If you’ve been a customer for three or more years, we’ll waive the surcharge the first time you’re at fault in an accident. (Good news: There’s no waiting period in North Carolina or with the ERIE Rate Protect policy in New York.)
- ERIE Rate Lock®: Nobody likes surprises on their bill. With the ERIE Rate Lock® feature4, freeze your auto premium year after year, even if you file a claim. Your rates only change if you add or remove a vehicle or driver, change an address or change the policy. (New York customers: Ask about ERIE Rate ProtectSM.)
- Diminishing deductible: A clean driving record can go a long way. With ERIE’s diminishing deductible option5, available with ERIE Auto Plus® coverage, each year you don’t file a claim, your deductible will be reduced by $100 (up to a maximum of $500). Eligibility varies by state, so check with your agent to make sure you qualify.
What is (and Isn’t) Covered by State Minimum Limits?
Each state has its own laws that govern the minimum car insurance coverage you need to be able to legally drive there. For a list of minimum insurance requirements by category and state, see this chart from the Insurance Information Institute.
Some states might require certain coverages such as personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Liability coverage is required in just about every state, although the amount required varies.
Keep in mind that your liability kicks in only after a covered loss, up to the stated limits of coverage you’ve purchased on your policy. Generally speaking, here’s what to expect:
- What can liability cover?Let’s say you rear-end a car at a traffic light or lose control of your vehicle on an icy road. Liability coverage can cover the costs of damage you caused to other vehicles and property, as well as the medical costs of other people involved in the accident. It can also kick in to cover lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and potentially your legal bills, should the other driver or their insurance company end up suing you.
- What isn’t covered by liability? For starters, liability coverage won’t pay to fix damage to your own vehicle. (That’s where collisionand comprehensivecan help.) If you’re driving with only your state’s minimum liability limits, you could also leave yourself financially vulnerable if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run (where uninsured motorist coverage could come into play) or total your new car before you’ve paid off your car loan (where ERIE’s New Auto Security coverage endorsement6 may have helped).
Want more on auto insurance basics? Learn more about the six most common auto coverages found in a typical insurance policy, or four common auto insurance endorsements to personalize your policy with extra protection.
See if ERIE Can Offer You a Cheaper Quote
At ERIE, we’re eager to provide an insurance experience that’s personal, fair and affordable.
1All discounts are subject to eligibility criteria and applicable rates and rules at the time of purchase. Actual savings vary. Life multi-policy discount is not available in conjunction with auto policies already taking advantage of ERIE Rate Lock®. Erie Family Life insurance products are not available in New York. For additional information, contact your local ERIE agent.
2Not available in Kentucky
3Not available in North Carolina
4 Rates subject to change if you add or remove a vehicle, add or remove a driver, or change your address or the place you usually park your car. ERIE Rate Lock® does not guarantee continued insurance coverage. Not available in all states. Limited to three years in Virginia. Insured must meet applicable underwriting guidelines. Premium may change if you make a policy change.
5Diminishing deductible is up to a maximum reduction of $500. In New York, the comprehensive deductible cannot be reduced to less than $50 and collision deductible cannot be reduced to less than $100.
6Vehicle is considered new when less than two years old and you are the original owner. The endorsement is sold on a per-vehicle basis, not per policy, and contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage is not available in all states. Eligible vehicles must carry both comprehensive and collision coverage and replacement must be made with a comparable model. New vehicle replacement and better vehicle replacement do not apply to leased vehicles. Only repair coverage and auto lease/loan component apply to a leased vehicle. Coverage does not include items such as overdue payments and carry-over balances from previous leases/loans, etc. When payment is made under new vehicle replacement or better vehicle replacement, auto lease/ loan coverage will not apply. Not available in NY or NC.
Posted on 11 August 2020 | 9:00 pm
Gnawed wires. Damaged upholstery. Foul odors. These are all telltale signs that you may have a mouse taking up residence in your car.
While mice may be small, they can create big problems for you and your vehicle. A single mouse can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your car in a matter of days. And the diseases they carry can be harmful to your health, too.
If you suspect a mouse has made your car its new home, the best course of action is to get it out — fast. Keep reading to find out tips to help you track down any unwanted rodent passengers and keep them out for good – and learn how your car insurance can help if something goes wrong.
How do I know if a mouse is living in my car?
There are several ways you can tell if a mouse is living in your vehicle:
Car problems: Unfortunately, some drivers first discover a rodent problem after their car won’t start or isn’t working properly. This is often caused by mice chewing through wires in the engine compartment. A mouse or rat will gnaw on wires as a means to sharpen its teeth. And there is some evidence that mice find newer soy-based wire insulation materials to be pretty tasty, too. With so many complex electrical systems in modern cars, chewed up wires are almost guaranteed to cause problems.
Damaged upholstery: If a mouse has decided to make itself a new home in your car, it will start by looking for materials to build a nest. Lucky for that mouse… plenty of things in your car could work perfectly. If you find holes in your seats, missing chunks of insulation or chewed-up foam, you might have a mouse problem.
Mouse droppings: Like any pest infestation, finding animal waste is a pretty good indicator that you have a problem. Look for tiny mouse droppings on your car’s carpeting, seat and dashboard.
- Bad smells: If you detect foul odors coming from your car, it may be due to a pest problem. Often, drivers will first detect these smells coming from the vehicle’s air vents. Mice can use the vent system as a tunnel to get from the engine bay to your car’s interior. And vents often provide easy access to insulation and filter materials they can use to build a nest. Over time, a musty odor can develop from mouse urine (gross, we know). And if the smell is really bad, there’s a chance the rodent may have died inside.
- Mouse nest: Finding a mouse nest is the easiest way to confirm your rodent suspicions. The first place you should look is inside your car’s airbox (that’s where the engine air filter is located). Mice love this location because it’s warm and protected from the elements. Open the box and look for signs of rodent freeloaders. The area should be empty and relatively clean, so it will be evident if there’s a nest inside. You should also check under your car’s plastic engine cover, if it has one.
Why do mice nest in a car?
If you suspect mice are living in your car, they’ve moved in for one or more of the following reasons:
Shelter: When looking for a home, mice make safety a top priority. Your car provides protection from predators and the elements. And if it hasn’t been driven in a while, it becomes even more desirable. (Read our list of tips of how to keep your car safe when you’re not driving it.)
Food: Mice also look for places to nest that are close to a food source. This could be a factor if you store pet food in the garage or park outside near your building’s dumpster. If you have a habit of leaving food, crumbs or trash inside the car, the mouse is sure to stick around.
- Warmth: This is a factor in the winter months. After driving your car, the engine will radiate heat for hours — making it the perfect place for rodents to escape the cold.
How does a mouse get inside my car?
Even if you leave your doors closed and your windows rolled up, there are plenty of ways for a mouse to gain entry into your car. In the engine compartment, the air inlet provides a direct path to the airbox, where mice love to nest. And from the engine compartment, a mouse can squeeze into the interior of your car through a vent or holes designed for wires, cables, pedals or your steering column.
What type of damage can a mouse cause?
A determined mouse or rat can chew through all kinds of materials — including plastic and metal. This means they can cause significant damage to your vehicle.
The most substantial problems are caused when a mouse chews through wires. And the extent of the damage will largely depend on which wires the rodent decides to gnaw. For example, a chewed-up main wire harness or engine control module could cost thousands of dollars to repair.
But the problems don’t stop there. If a mouse gets inside your car’s vent system, the dash area may need to be disassembled for a thorough cleaning. Because breathing in those musty odors is bad for your nose — and your health.
How do I get a mouse out of my car?
Here are a few ways to encourage the mouse to find a new home.
Turn up the heat. Just like humans, mice don’t like extreme temperatures. Roll up your car’s windows and park in the sun for a few hours. All that heat may convince the mouse to move out.
Honk the horn. Loud noises, like honking your horn, may scare a mouse of its new home in your car. Just expect some strange looks from the neighbors.
Use repellent. Most home improvement stores will sell several types of mouse repellents you can place in and around your car. Many people have also had success using cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil.
- Set mousetraps. Mousetraps aren’t only useful for keeping mice out of your house. Setting traps in or under your vehicle can also help protect your vehicle from unwanted visitors.
How do I prevent mice from living in my car?
Once you evict the mouse from your car, follow these tips to keep it from returning.
- Park in the garage. Cars left outside will be more susceptible to rodent intruders. So park inside, if possible. And be sure to close your doors, windows and sunroof.
- Keep it moving. The best way to keep mice out is through regular use of your car. Vehicles that sit for long periods of time without moving will make for a more inviting home.
- Clean your car. A car filled with trash and food crumbs is a welcome invitation for mice. Keep the inside of your car clean and regularly remove any leaves or debris from the engine bay, too. Read more about how to clean and detail your car at home.
- Don’t park near a food source. Try to park your car away from food sources like garbage containers or bird feeders. And keep any food stored in your garage, including pet food, in sealed containers.
Is rodent damage to my car covered by my auto insurance?
If you’re an Erie Insurance customer, animal-related damage to your car is covered by the optional comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy. That includes damage to your car from mice or rats. You’ll just be responsible for paying your deductible.
Questions about your specific policy? Talk to your local ERIE agent to understand what your policy can cover (and where you might have gaps).
Looking After You
There are enough surprises in life. Insurance coverage shouldn’t be one of them. That’s why we’re here to provide insurance that comforts and protects.
Posted on 2 August 2020 | 9:00 pm
We’ve all heard it said that driverless cars are the future of the auto industry. But while fully autonomous vehicles aren’t widely available just yet, automakers continue to introduce new technologies to help make your car smarter — and safer.
Having the right auto insurance is one way to feel confident about the road ahead. Knowing what technology to consider on your next car is another. The names and specifics vary among automakers, so it pays to do some independent research with organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Looking for a quick roundup? If you’re in the market for a new car, truck or SUV, here are 12 high-tech safety upgrades to consider.
New Car Technology Safety Features
1. Adaptive Cruise Control
- What is it? Traditional cruise control systems are great for maintaining a steady speed on the highway. But they can be a pain to use in traffic when every vehicle isn’t traveling at the same pace. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) solves this problem by automatically accelerating or braking to maintain a set distance between your car and the vehicle in front of it.
- How does it work? Thanks to an array of built-in sensors, ACC allows you to set the cruise without adjusting it when the car ahead slows down. Many systems will even bring your car to a complete stop. That means less work for you in stop-and-go traffic — and some extra help maintaining a safe distance behind other vehicles.
2. Lane Departure Warning
- What is it? We’ve all experienced the fear of suddenly realizing you drifted outside your driving lane. Lane departure warning (LDW) systems are designed to alert you right away, so you can make a correction before an accident occurs.
- How does it work? By monitoring the painted lines on the roadway, these systems alert the driver of a lane departure by using a warning chime, a visual alert on the dash, a steering wheel vibration or a combination of all three.
3. Lane Keeping Assist
- What is it? This technology takes the lane departure warning to the next level, by automatically steering your vehicle to keep it within the lane. A variety of automakers offer some type of lane keeping assist (LKA) system.
- How does it work? Whether it’s called active steer, autosteer, lane keep or lane centering assist, they all do the same thing: make minor steering corrections to keep you safely between the lines.
4. Forward Collision Warning
- What is it? Rear-end collisions are one of the most common auto accidents, in part because of how quickly they can occur. Take your eyes off the road for just a few seconds, and when you look back up it could be too late to brake for a vehicle stopped in front of you.
- How does it work? Forward collision warning (FCW) systems are designed to alert drivers of hazards ahead that could cause an accident.
5. Automatic Emergency Braking
- What is it? There are certain times when a sudden stop is necessary to avoid an impending collision. Whether you’re braking for a pedestrian, a disabled vehicle or a deer in the roadway, automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to help safely bring your vehicle to a stop.
- How does it work? This system uses sensors and cameras to detect a potential forward collision, then automatically applies the brakes. By eliminating the human reaction time involved in braking, an AEB system can help reduce the likelihood of a crash — or at least lessen the severity of the impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates AEB systems will prevent 28,000 crashes by 2025 — which is why 20 of the world’s largest automakers have agreed to make the system mandatory by 2022.
- One thing to consider: Recalls have been reported on some makes and models because their AEB systems have suddenly and unexpectedly engaged the brakes. Learn how to check for recalls and know what to do if your car is affected.
6. 360-Degree Camera
- What is it? There’s a reason why backup cameras are now mandatory equipment for all vehicles sold in the U.S. They vastly improve visibility by removing a driver’s blind spots. Now, automakers are beginning to take camera technology a step further, with 360-degree camera systems.
- How does it work? By combining the view from multiple cameras into a single screen, these systems can make parallel parking or navigating a crowded parking lot far less stressful. Different auto marketers have developed their own names for this technology (such as surround view, surround vision, bird’s eye view or multi-angle view), but they all do basically the same thing.
7. Blind Spot Monitoring
- What is it? If you’ve ever attempted to change lanes on the highway before realizing there was a car hidden in your blind spot, you’ll instantly understand the appeal of this technology. Blind spot monitoring or blind spot warning systems alert a driver when there’s a vehicle to the rear of them in an adjacent lane.
- How does it work? Depending on the car, these systems will sound a chime, flash a warning sign in the vehicle’s mirror or vibrate the steering wheel if it detects a vehicle in your blind spot.
8. Pedestrian Detection
- What is it? This technology offers a slightly different take on forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking by specifically monitoring for pedestrians and cyclists.
- How does it work? At lower speeds, the system uses a combination of radar sensors and cameras to identify people who are walking and biking. By actively monitoring their distance and direction, pedestrian detection (PD) systems will alert the driver if a pedestrian is headed toward the vehicle and automatically engage the brakes to prevent a collision.
9. Adaptive Headlights
- What is it? Limited visibility can make driving at night difficult, especially on curvy roads. Adaptive headlights aim to improve nighttime vision by adjusting the headlight direction to the road ahead.
- How does it work? While standard headlights always point in one direction, cars with adaptive headlights use sensors to measure a driver’s steering inputs. Then, they turn the angle of the headlights to provide a better view of where you’re going. So when you’re taking a turn, you’ll be more likely to see where you’re headed, instead of illuminating the side of the road.
10. Cabin Camera
- What is it? While 360-degree cameras provide a full view of your car’s surroundings, many automakers are starting to add cameras inside the vehicle to help with safety or reduce distracted driving.
- How does it work? Technology such as Honda’s CabinWatch® uses an in-car camera to help minivan drivers keep a closer eye on kids in the backseat — a feature that may be especially appealing to families with young children. And other automakers are experimenting with facial recognition software to unlock a vehicle and recognize when a driver becomes tired or distracted.
11. Parking Assist
- What is it? Every driver can relate to the pressures of parallel parking — like trying to fit in a space without hitting the curb or bumping a nearby car. If you’re not a fan of street parking, you may want to check out parking assist technology.
- How does it work? Like other features, every automaker has its own name for this new tech: parking assistant, park assist and active park assist, to name a few. But they all accomplish the same task. Parking your car at the push of a button. With this technology, you can let go of the wheel and watch your vehicle pull itself in or out of a tight parking spot.
12. Heads-up Display
- What is it? Keeping your eyes on the road is one of the keys to safe driving. A heads-up display (HUD) makes that job easier by projecting critical information onto your vehicle’s windshield.
- How does it work? As you drive, you’ll see your vehicle’s speed and GPS navigation displayed on the dash — eliminating the need to look down.
One final thought: These car technologies only help if you actually use them. A new national survey from Erie Insurance found that drivers are intentionally turning off or disabling features that can help them avoid crashes. See the full results of our 2020 survey here.
Can safety technologies lower the cost of my auto insurance?
With all these high-tech upgrades designed to improve your car’s safety, you might wonder how that affects your rates. (See also: What Determines the Price of My Auto Insurance?)
Newer vehicles with safety features like back-up cameras and automatic braking do a better job of preventing accidents. However, it typically costs more to repair and replace a car with the latest technology.
So while the car you drive can influence your rates, your driving habits affect it even more.
A New App from ERIE to Reward Safe Driving
Good news for good drivers: With Erie Insurance, you can get rewarded for safe behaviors behind the wheel*. Our rewards program, YourTurn™ uses a smartphone app to track driving behaviors including acceleration, braking, cornering, phone distraction and speeding.
Depending on how safely you drive, you can earn rewards every two weeks that can be redeemed for gift cards or donated to charity. It’s one more way ERIE rewards you for playing it safe.
Contact your local ERIE agent to see if the YourTurn™ program is available in your state. Then, you can start earning rewards and promoting safe driving for your entire family.
*YourTurn™ Program is not available in all states, including DC, KY, NC, NY, and PA. Ages 16-23 can earn rewards of up to $10 every two weeks, ages 24+ can earn rewards of up to $5 every two weeks, based on driving 50 tracked miles and the participating driver’s score during the scoring period. Must drive a minimum of 50 tracked miles during each two-week reward period. Standard text messaging rates apply. Must have a compatible smartphone device with a data plan subscription and GPS capabilities used exclusively by the participating driver.
Posted on 30 July 2020 | 9:00 pm
Getting in a car accident is enough to ruin anyone's day. But if you’re involved in a hit-and-run, the experience can be especially disorienting.
You realize that your vehicle’s been hit and before you can step out to get the other driver’s information, their car is taking off into the distance.
As overwhelming as the experience can be, how you react next can play an important role in protecting yourself physically and financially. If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run, here are some important details to consider before you leave the scene of the accident.
What is a Hit-and-Run?
An accident is considered a hit-and-run when one party flees the scene of the crash, even if it’s only a fender bender. Depending on the state where you live, the consequences for leaving a crash can include criminal charges, fines, license revocation and even jail time.
Although the penalties are steep, a driver may choose to flee for several reasons:
- They lack auto insurance coverage.
- They’re already breaking the law in some way.
- They’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- They don’t own the vehicle they’re driving.
What to Do in a Hit-and-Run
Like any collision, there are some basic steps you should take once the dust has settled. As the last car standing, it’s your responsibility to document as much of the accident as possible so that you are better positioned to protect yourself, your passengers and your vehicle.
Here’s what to do if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run:
Stay calm. Any collision can evoke intense emotions including anger, fear and anxiety. Try to remain collected so you can think and act with a clear head.
Stay where you are. Don’t leave the scene of the accident or attempt to chase down the other driver. Staying put can help you collect valuable evidence while avoiding incurring penalties yourself. Move your car safely off the road and start by checking to see if you or any passengers need medical attention.
- Remember the details. Try to remember as many details as you can, such as the make and model of the car as well as the license plate number. You may not be able to identify who hit you, but anything you remember can help when you talk to the police or your insurance company.
- Find witnesses. An accident of any kind will typically draw attention. Once you’re safe, see if there are any witnesses to confirm what happened. If possible, get their names and contact information. This will help you solidify your story when you talk to the police.
- Call the police. Dial 911 and call the police to the scene, especially if someone needs medical attention. (Some states legally require calling the police after a collision.) The authorities will help investigate the incident and file an accident report.
Take photos. While you’re getting the story straight, pictures will help provide evidence of the damage. Take photos from different angles, including a full view of the vehicle and close-ups of any dings and scratches. Don’t forget to take pictures of the paint left by the other car, too.
- Contact your insurance agent. In any accident (not just a hit-and-run), call your insurance agent to see what you should do next. They can walk you through what to do and how to file a claim.
Will My Insurance Cover a Hit-and-Run?
If police can identify the culprit, their insurance company could help pay for the damages. But many hit-and-run drivers are never identified, which means their liability coverage isn’t an option.
In the event of a hit-and-run, chances are you’ll have to file a claim with your insurance company. Whether the accident is covered depends on the coverages in your policy. That’s why it’s best to make sure you have the protection you need. These coverage options can help ensure you’re protected:
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist property damage: These coverages can pay to repair or replace your vehicle if you’re hit by someone with limited or no insurance coverage. That means it can also cover unidentified drivers in a hit-and-run. However, availability varies by state. Some states don’t offer one or both coverages. In other states, such as North Carolina and West Virginia, uninsured motorist property damage coverage is mandatory. Talk to your local ERIE agent about how things work where you live. In states where this coverage is not available, optional collision coverage can cover damage caused by a hit-and-run driver. Learn more about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Collision coverage:Collision coverage will help cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car after a collision, including a hit-and-run. When using this coverage, most drivers will pay a deductiblewhich is a fixed amount specified in your policy.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury protection: Similar to property damage coverage, this type of coverage can help to pay for injuries you and your passengers sustained if you are hit by someone with limited or no insurance (or hit-and-run) driver and can pay for medical costs, lost income and pain and suffering. This coverage is mandatory (and subject to waiver) in some states. Other states, such as New York, are no-fault states, meaning that drivers in an accident can file a claim with their insurance company regardless of who is at fault. Even if you live in a no-fault state, it’s recommended to have uninsured and underinsured coverage.
Get Back to Your Life
A car accident, no matter what the circumstances, can change your whole day, week or month. And managing the claims process without having every piece of the puzzle can make those days and weeks feel a lot longer.At Erie Insurance, our goal is to restore your confidence and renew your optimism by giving you a fresh start. Hassle-free claims service and fair assessments are what we’re all about. Learn more about auto insurance from ERIE or talk to your local ERIE agent to make sure you have everything you need to get back on the road and back to your life.
Posted on 29 July 2020 | 9:00 pm
Everyone knows auto insurance is there to help when your vehicle’s been damaged. But what happens when all you’re left with is an empty parking spot?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 700,000 vehicles are stolen in the United States every year. And compared to an auto accident or weather damage, a stolen car raises more questions than answers. How do I file a claim? Will I ever get my car back? If it’s totaled, when I do see it again?
Relax and take a deep breath. Because we’re here to explain how auto insurance can help cover you if someone steals your ride.
Is theft covered by car insurance?
Similar to hail damage or vandalism, car theft is considered a non-collision event. That means comprehensive insurance can help cover the cost of your stolen car — whether or not it's recovered – minus your deductible.
Unlike auto liability coverage, comprehensive coverage is optional if you own your vehicle outright. If you have a loan on your car, chances are your lender requires collisionand comprehensive insurance. But regardless of whether or not it’s required by your lender, comprehensive coverage is the best way to ensure you’ll be protected in the event your car is stolen.
Will comprehensive insurance replace my stolen vehicle?
Stolen vehicle claims are treated similarly to a total loss from an auto accident. Comprehensive insurance can provide protection up to the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle, less your deductible. The ACV represents your car’s current, depreciated market value — not the price you paid for it.
Still owe money on your vehicle? Since the cash payout for a stolen car is based on its actual cash value – not the amount you have left on your car loan – you could be in a tough spot if your car is worth less than you owe.
That’s where ERIE’s New Auto Security Coverage Endorsement* can help, by making up the difference between your insurance settlement and the remaining loan principal. (Ask your local agent for details and availability in your state.)
What happens if your car is recovered?
It’s important that you promptly report the theft to the police and to ERIE. If your car is found, a claims adjuster will assess the damage and determine the cost of repairing it.
Comprehensive coverage can help pay for the damage done to your car while it was out of your possession, minus your deductible. If it’s deemed a total loss, you’ll receive the actual cash value of your car minus your deductible.
What are the chances of finding my car?
Unfortunately, less than half of all stolen cars are recovered — around 45% nationwide. So while there is a chance you’ll get your car back, whether it’s worth repairing is another question.
Typically, insurance companies wait about 30 days before counting the theft as a total loss. After that, comprehensive coverage will pay for the actual cash value (ACV) of the car, minus your deductible.
If you have a tracking device or GPS in-vehicle security system, you may have a better chance of finding your car. Factory remote assistance services like OnStar could possibly determine the vehicle’s location or reduce the engine power if it’s been reported stolen. LoJack is also an option for people who want to buy an aftermarket system.
Am I covered for a rental car?
Rental car coverage can help pay for a rental car while you don’t have access to yours after a covered loss. But you should always ask your agent how many days a rental will be covered under your policy.
If you’re an ERIE customer, our comprehensive coverage includes basic rental car coverage for covered losses such as car theft. Basic rental coverage provides a compact sedan rental car, and a larger vehicle can be selected if you purchase additional coverage.
This coverage varies by state, so ask your insurance agent about rental car coverage before you’re in a situation where you need it. In most states, you’re covered for a rental for up to 45 days. (Virginia and North Carolina work differently.) Learn more about auto insurance and car rentals.
How to prevent car theft
Any way you look at it, dealing with a stolen vehicle is a major hassle. Wouldn't it be easier to avoid the headaches in the first place?
More often than not, car thieves are looking for easy targets. So the more deterrents you put between them and your car, the more likely they are to avoid the risk.
Here a few quick tips to help keep criminals at bay:
- Protect your keys. Many thefts happen because of driver error, like leaving your keys in the car. Thousands of vehiclesare stolen with the owner's keys each year, so it’s more common than one might think. Never leave your keys in the vehicle. And remember to store them out of sight whenever possible.
- Lock it up. When it comes to car theft, half the battle is getting inside. And an unlocked car gives criminals easy entry to the driver’s seat. Every time you reach your destination, roll up the windows, shut off the engine and lock the door. That way, if a criminal does target your car, they’ll have to work harder to take it for a spin.
Buy a car alarm. A blaring car alarm is usually enough to raise suspicion, especially if the person in the front seat is struggling to turn it off. Install an alarm to draw attention to your car when it’s broken into. As a bonus, anti-theft devices like a car alarm may also lower your insurance rate.
- Park carefully. A dark, non-secure area is perfect cover for car thieves. If you park on the street or in a parking lot, choose a well-lit spot to make suspects easily visible. Park in a garage if possible to help protect your car from the dangers outside.
Utilize anti-theft devices. Invest in a system that keeps your car from starting or the wheel from turning, such as immobilizers, wheel locks and fuse cut-offs. Some are more expensive than others, but most criminals won’t waste time figuring out how to steal the car and risk getting caught.
- Hide your valuables. Sometimes cars are targeted not because of how nice the vehicle is, but because of what’s inside. If you have anything of value in your car, always keep it out of sight.
What to do if your car is stolen
Although you can reduce the chances of car theft immensely, there’s always a chance your vehicle could be stolen. Here’s what to do when you find an empty spot where you parked your car:
Contact the police. Upon discovering your vehicle has been stolen, call the police immediately. Tell them everything you can about your car, from the make and model to the vehicle identification number (VIN) and any identifying features, like bumper stickers. Make sure your response is honest and detailed.
- Call your local ERIE agent. Your agent is here to help untangle the knots and restore balance after something unexpected happens. He or she can also talk you through the process of filing an insurance claim. When filing a claim, it helps to have as much information to share as possible, such as where your vehicle was stolen and where any spare keys are kept. You should also provide your leasing or financing company’s contact information and a copy of the police report.
- Call your lender. If your car isn’t paid off, contact your leasing or financing company. Once the claim has been processed, your insurance company will pay the lender directly. Ask your lender to contact your insurer if there’s any confusion.
Get back on the road
Car thieves may steal your wheels, but they don’t have to take your peace of mind. At ERIE, our commitment to you extends beyond your auto policy. Your protection means restoring your life after a claim and giving you personal, forward-looking service, too.
Contact your local ERIE insurance agent to help restore what was lost and get back to your life.
*Vehicle is considered new when less than two years old. Eligible vehicles must carry both comprehensive and collision coverage and replacement must be made with a comparable model. The endorsement is sold on a per vehicle basis, not per policy and contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. New vehicle replacement and better vehicle replacement do not apply to leased vehicles. When payment is made under new vehicle replacement or better vehicle replacement, auto lease/loan coverage will not apply. Coverage is not available in all states. Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described here. Coverage does not include items such as overdue payments and carry-over balances from previous leases/loans, etc. Ask your agent for details.
Posted on 27 July 2020 | 9:00 pm